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I tore up a letter I had first written you, that's why you
will get my answer somewhat later. I begin by thanking you for
the 50 fr., which I appreciate, as I do everything you do for
me. But as I began to say, your letter disappoints me, as you
do not comply with my request, for I stick to my opinion that
the reasons I gave you in my last letter for coming sooner were
quite logical. But as I will not quarrel about it after all, I
only beg you to reconsider it.
With regard to Cormon, it is decidedly better for me to go
on drawing from the plaster casts than to work out-of-doors,
because the better I memorize the structure of the figure the
better I shall be able to follow the course. I shall have to do
with people who have drawn from the casts for years; if
I do it for months it will not be too long. I am perhaps
more daring in dashing things off, and in grasping the whole,
than many others, because I have always worked from nature.
But the others may have more knowledge of the nude, for
which I haven't had the opportunity. The sooner I make up for
that the better, the more I shall be able to profit from
working at Cormon's.
Then my health, I do not eat when I'm working outdoors, and
I cannot get well. For I frequently relapse; my health is far
from being what it ought to be.
Now as to the expenses, I believe it will be pretty much the
same. So just think it over again - we must act, for we must
put our shoulders to the wheel.
All the time I have been here, I have had a comrade, an old
Frenchman, and I have painted his portrait, which Verlat
approved of, and which you will see. The winter was even worse
for him than for me, and the poor devil is much worse off than
I am because his age makes it very critical.
He knew that it was going to be rather serious, and he dared
not entrust himself to the hospital doctor.
I wonder what will be decided. It is possible that for his
sake I shall stay here a few days longer in March. After all,
there is nothing in the world as interesting as people, and one
can never study them enough. And that's why people like
Turgenev are such great masters, because they teach us to
The books of today since Balzac, for instance, are different
from all that was written in the preceding centuries, and
perhaps more beautiful.
I am longing especially for Turgenev, because I have read an
article by Daudet about him, in which both his character and
his work were analyzed - very beautifully.
For he is exemplary as a man, and in his old age he was as
young as ever as far as working on was concerned, for he
was dissatisfied with himself and always trying to do better
Goodbye, but think it over carefully - it would be such a
relief if you could see this matter the way I do.
And I should not insist so much if I did not think it
necessary to continue drawing from the casts without
interruption, especially with regard to June. Well, write soon.
I would much rather paint something else, but as a practical
matter it cannot be avoided.
With a handshake,
Ever yours, Vincent
Because I think that after all my stay in Antwerp has been
useful to me I believe that we must go straight on.
At this time, Vincent was 32 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 19 or 20 February 1886 in Antwerp. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 457.
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